San Francisco's Toxic Sludge - It's Good for You!

Fifteen years ago, CMD's book Toxic Sludge Is Good for You! first exposed the hidden government and industry PR campaign greenwashing toxic sewage sludge as "biosolids," an invented PR euphemism used to cynically re-brand toxic waste as "fertilizer" given free to farmers. Today, unfortunately, the biosolids scam is bigger than ever. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) reports that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission "has come up with an ingenious plot to trick city residents into taking their toxic sewage sludge back and disposing of it in their own gardens. San Francisco is having Synagro, the corporate giant of the toxic sludge industry, 'compost' some of the toxic sewage sludge. Then they give it away to San Francisco's gardeners telling us it's 'high-quality, nutrient-rich, organic Biosolids Compost.' " OCA has launched a grassroots campaign calling on San Francisco's mayor to stop the practice, noting "municipal sewage sludge routinely contains thousands of dangerous pathogens, toxic heavy metals, flame retardants, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, pharmaceutical drugs and other hazardous chemicals coming from residential drains, storm water runoff, hospitals, and industrial plants."


The US EPA and waste industry are promoting the landspreading of Class B sewage sludge containing infectious human and animal prions on grazing lands, hay fields, and dairy pastures. This puts livestock and wildlife at risk of infection. They ingest large quantities of dirt and top dressed sludge with their fodder.

Prion infected Class A sludge "biosolids" compost is spread in parks, playgrounds, home lawns, flower and vegetable gardens - putting humans, family pets, and children with their undeveloped immune systems and hand-to-mouth "eat dirt" behavior at risk. University of Wisconsin prion researchers, working with $100,000 EPA grant and a $5 million Dept. of Defense grant, have found that prions become 680 times more infectious in certain types of soil. Prions can survive for over 3 years in soils. And human prions are 100,000 times more difficult to inactivate than animal prions

Recently, researchers at UC Santa Cruz, and elsewhere, announced that Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is a prion disease. "Prion" = proteinaceous infectious particle which causes always fatal TSEs (Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies) in humans and animals including BSE (Mad Cow Disease), scrapie in sheep and goats, and Chronic Wasting Disease in deer, elk and moose. Human prion diseases are AD and CJD (Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease,) and other rarer maladies. Infectious prions have been found in human and animal muscle tissue including heart, saliva, blood, urine, feces and many other organs.

Alzheimer's rates are soaring as Babyboomers age - there are now over 5.3 million AD victims in US shedding infectious prions in their blood, urine and feces, into public sewers. This Alzheimer's epidemic has almost 500,000 new victims each year. No sewage treatment process inactivates prions - they are practically indestructible. The wastewater treatment process reconcentrates the infectious prions in the sewage sludge.

Quotes from Dr. Joel Pedersen, Univ. of Wisconsin, on his prion research:

Our results suggest that if prions were to enter municipal waste water treatment systems, most of the agent would partition to activated sludge solids, survive mesophilic anaerobic digestion, and be present in
treated biosolids. Land application of biosolids containing prions could represent a route for their unintentional introduction into the environment. Our results argue for excluding inputs of prions to municipal wastewater treatment."

"Prions could end up in wastewater treatment plants via slaughterhouse drains, hunted game cleaned in a sink, or humans with vCJD shedding prions in their urine or faeces, Pedersen says"
(Note - This UW research was conducted BEFORE UCSC scientists determined that Alzheimer's Disease is another prion disease which may be shedding infectious prions into public sewers and Class B and Class A sludge "biosolids.)

Helane Shields, Alton, NH 03809

Gasoline Is Toxic Waste - Literally
We Don't Need Gasoline, Never Did

Fluoride Is Killing Us

Fluoride, Teeth, and the Atomic Bomb
Fluoride was the key chemical in atomic bomb production, according to the documents. Massive quantities of fluoride-- millions of tons-- were essential for the manufacture of bomb-grade uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons throughout the Cold War. One of the most toxic chemicals known, fluoride rapidly emerged as the leading chemical health hazard of the U.S atomic bomb program--both for workers and for nearby communities, the documents reveal.

Fluoride is nuclear waste!


"Nuclear waste" is what you get in spent fuel rods when they come out of the reactor. While fluoride is used in the uranium enrichment process and is left over from it, it's used in other processes as well, so there's nothing particularly "nuclear" about it per se. It even has beneficial uses in minute quantities. Granted that the amounts left over from uranium enrichment are more than you'd ever want in your mouthwash, the distinctions here are important ones.

The idea that Alzheimer's Disease is prion disease is new to me. I have always been led to believe that Alzheimer’s was caused by a build up of mercury and aluminium in the brain. There are people who have cured themselves of Alzheimer’s by detoxifying their body-brain of mercury and aluminium. Therefore may I suggest that maybe the cause of Alzheimer’s is when all three: mercury, aluminium and prions are present in the brain. If only two out of the three are present then Alzheimer’s does not develop. This would explain how people can be cured of Alzheimer’s. To my knowledge there is no way to remove prions from the brain.

Thank you for contacting the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) regarding the safety of our City’s biosolids compost and the use of the term “organic” in signs and literature promoting our compost give away events.

The SFPUC has been giving away biosolids compost yearly since 2007. The SFPUC shares your concerns regarding the safety of biosolids compost – that is why we test our biosolids for contaminants, and make those test results available to the public. We are constantly re-evaluating our pilot giveaways and have no immediate plans for our next event.

The SFPUC’s previous use of the term “organic” in signs and literature regarding our biosolids compost was intended to communicate its high carbon content in a manner akin to the term “organic chemistry”. To prevent confusion with what is labeled as “Organic” by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the SFPUC has since removed any reference to the term from all of its signage and literature.

San Francisco is a city that prides itself on its sustainability and being at the forefront of new environmental and public health initiatives. Just as in many of our other initiatives, our biosolids program goes above and beyond what is required by federal and state laws. Although no law requires it, the SFPUC tests for contaminants and we have found extremely low levels of contaminants in our biosolids. One of the few countries in the world that has limits on endocrine disrupters is Denmark. Our levels of endocrine disrupters fall below what is required to meet even their reuse standards.

I hope you will take the time to learn more about our San Francisco biosolids program by reading the accompanying text. In addition, you can also find more documentation along with tests results on our website at


Tommy Moala
Assistant General Manager for the Wastewater Enterprise
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
Background: What are Biosolids? What is Biosolids Compost?
• Biosolids are the treated nutrient-rich solid waste removed from sewage at every wastewater treatment plant. In San Francisco, biosolids treated in an anaerobic environment (in an environment devoid of oxygen) and heated for about 20 days at 95 degrees Fahrenheit in a series of tanks at our treatment plants. Methane gas is collected from the biosolids and used to produce renewable energy that powers our operations.

• Biosolids Compost undergoes further aerobic treatment for 3-4 weeks (oxygen-based environment) and kept at temperatures exceeding 131 degrees Fahrenheit at a composting facility in Merced. At the facility, the biosolids are mixed in with organic materials like wood chips or paper fiber. This is the process that converts the biosolids to compost.

• The sustained and serial anaerobic and aerobic treatment substantially reduces many compounds of concern.

Metals Levels / Other compounds of concerns (i.e.: endocrine disrupters, triclosan, etc.)
• Metals - We have very low concentration of metals in our biosolids. Our levels are not only far below the current EPA standards, but below the more stringent European Union standards as well. In fact, if you line up our biosolids compost with the same compost you would purchase at your typical gardening store, the metals concentrations would be about the same, in other words, very low.

Other compounds of concerns
• Although we aren't required to, the SFPUC has conducted tests on these compounds because we want to be ahead of the curve. We have extremely low levels for all of these compounds in our biosolids. One of the few countries in the world that has limits on endocrine disrupters is Denmark. Our levels of endocrine disrupters fall below what is required to meet even their reuse standards.

The Term “Organic”
• The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (SFPUC) former use of the term “organic” referred to the scientific definition of organic matter as in containing significant amounts of organic carbon. To prevent confusion with what is labeled as “Organic” by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the SFPUC has since removed any reference to the term from all of its signage and literature.

Why are the metals/other compounds low?
- There are a couple of reasons why:
1) The SFPUC provides drinking water from an enclosed, protected tap water supply. There is no contamination of our water from wastewater dischargers into our water source. We receive our great water pretty much straight from snowmelt off the Sierra Nevada to our taps.

2) San Franciscans are very educated and environmentally conscious. Part of that is due to the great work of SF Environment and the SFPUC. People know they shouldn't be dumping their motor oil down the drain or dumping dangerous chemicals down the toilet. After all, where does all that end up - straight to our wastewater treatment plants.

This is also part of the reason the SFPUC has sponsored an Eco-Fair two years in a row, the Big Blue Bucket event. We educate people and provide resources. For example, at our events, we collected more than 2 tons of old/expired medications for proper disposal.

The SFPUC also has an aggressive, and award winning water pollution prevention program. In the past 8 years, we've eliminated mercury runoff from dentist's offices and are constantly sampling our major dischargers to make sure they are in compliance.

3) San Francisco is primarily a residential city. There are no major industries in the City that would serve as a large contributor of metals, chemicals and compounds into the wastewater system.

The problem is that apart from normal organic bodily waste, which is treated to a fairly high standard in STP's, other organic compounds and metals are not.
The sludge contaminants are a direct result of the contaminants washed down the drains and it is at this point that the pollution must STOP.
I dispair every time I see an advert on TV encoraging us to 'kill 99% of all bacteria'. We use the product, which then kills the beneficial bacteria at the sewage works and reduces the efficiency of the process. We then complain about sewage sludge containing too many pollutants.
Sludge is NOT just fertiliser, but can be a real health problem.

The level of antibiotics in some sewage sludges is alarmingly high.
Two of the most common drugs are the antibiotics triclocarban and ciprofloxacin. Studies have shown several samples harbored up to 440 parts per million of triclocarban, which is added to antimicrobial soap and other personal care products.